Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has admitted his remark that 47% of Americans are government dependent victims was “completely wrong”.
Mitt Romney told Fox News he was committed to “helping the 100%”.
His comments, secretly filmed at a fundraiser in September, were possibly his most damaging campaign moment.
Polls suggest he is back on track after a debate with President Barack Obama this week. Barack Obama has urged him to reveal the true cost of his policies.
Observers say the president is seeking to portray his rival as dishonest about how middle class families will be taxed, while Mitt Romney wants to distance himself from his earlier gaffe.
After the video emerged from the private donors dinner in September, Mitt Romney said his remarks were “inelegantly stated” but did not retract them.
However, Mitt Romey went further in his interview with Fox on Thursday.
“Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you are going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” he said.
“In this case I said something that’s just completely wrong. I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100%… When I become president, it will be about helping the 100%.”
Most observers agree that Mitt Romney won the televised debate on Wednesday. A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Thursday suggested Mitt Romney had a net positive rating for the first time in the presidential campaign.
The poll said 51% of voters viewed him positively, with Barack Obama at 56%. The Republican moved ahead of his Democrat rival on which candidate voters trust to handle the economy, create jobs and manage the deficit.
Many of Barack Obama’s supporters are puzzled he chose not to bring up the 47% comments in the debate, although his campaign has used the remarks in a television advert.
At a rally in Denver on Thursday, Barack Obama urged his rival to tell the “truth” about his own policies.
“The real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that,” he said.
At a campaign rally in Virginia, Mitt Romney did not respond directly to the president’s criticism.
But he did argue that Barack Obama had failed during the debate to make his case for another term.
During Wednesday night’s head-to-head Mitt Romney repeatedly denied the $5 trillion claim.
Fact-checkers have said that Mitt Romney’s proposal to lower taxes by 20%, abolish estate tax and the alternative minimum tax would reduce revenue by $5tn over a decade.
The Republican has said he would help offset that by eliminating tax loopholes; the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says the sums do not add up.
The candidates went head to head for 90 minutes on jobs, taxes and healthcare.
Opinion polls agreed that Mitt Romney had the upper hand in the debate – the first of three between the White House rivals.
Various surveys gave Mitt Romney a 46-67% margin, with Barack Obama trailing on 22-25%.
The president was criticized for appearing hesitant and subdued, while the former governor – who has been lagging in the race – seemed animated and assertive.
Vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will meet in Danville, Kentucky on 11 October, before the second presidential debate on 16 October.
Mitt Romney, the US Republican presidential candidate, is to reveal his choice for running mate in the November election on Saturday, his campaign says.
The vice-presidential candidate will be named at an event on a former warship, the USS Wisconsin, in Norfolk, Virginia, at 09:00 EDT.
Unconfirmed US media reports say Mitt Romney has decided on Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.
But the campaign has made no official comment on the candidate’s identity.
Mitt Romney is challenging President Barack Obama in the 6 November vote.
Analysts say Mitt Romney will be hoping to wrest back momentum in the campaign after a series of pro-Obama campaign ads attacking his record.
The former governor of Massachusetts is set to begin a four-day bus tour through key battleground states.
The trip campaign will visit the states of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida before finishing in Ohio.
Unconfirmed US media reports say Mitt Romney has decided on Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as running mate for November election
In particular, Mitt Romney will seek to fight back against the Democrats’ push to portray him as upper-class and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans, observers say.
Recent opinion polls suggest a close race between the two men, with Barack Obama tending to have a slight lead in most surveys.
The vice-presidential announcement is expected to be made during a tour of the USS Wisconsin, a decommissioned battleship docked in Norfolk’s Nauticus Museum.
Dating back to the World War II-era, the vessel also saw service during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Several US media reports said all the signs were pointing to 42-year-old Paul Ryan as the leading contender to be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
A Republican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told reporters that Paul Ryan would be chosen.
If Paul Ryan is confirmed as Mitt Romney’s running mate, it would be a bold and ideological choice for a candidate who has been fairly cautious so far.
As chairman of the Budget committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Paul Ryan is seen as likely to add electoral firepower on what are expected to be the key election issues – jobs, the economy and the budget deficit.
He is also a staunch conservative who could enthuse the Republican base, and counteract some conservatives’ skepticism about Mitt Romney’s political past as governor of the traditionally liberal state of Massachusetts.
Other Republicans mentioned as being on Mitt Romney’s shortlist include Ohio representative Rob Portman, 56, and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, 51.
Rob Portman is seen as likely to help Mitt Romney gain votes in the important swing state of Ohio, while Tim Pawlenty could improve Romney’s appeal to working-class voters.
In a little over two weeks’ time, Mitt Romney will be formally confirmed as candidate at the Republican Party convention in Tampa, Florida.
His bitter rival in the primaries, Rick Santorum, will be a speaker at the convention, it was announced earlier in the week.
Paul Ryan profile:
• Aged 42, Paul Ryan was elected to the House of Representatives at 28 and is currently the Republican congressman for Wisconsin
• Seen as young and dynamic and a rising star in the Republican party
• Chairs the House Budget committee and has worked on reshaping federal budget
• A staunch conservative, he is best known for his proposals for large cuts in spending and taxes, which have proved popular with grassroots Republicans
Mitt Romney and the Republicans raised a combined $100 million in June, laying down the gauntlet to a Barack Obama campaign that is scrambling to keep pace.
The figure excludes the millions raised by groups that support the Republican presidential candidate.
President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have not yet released their fundraising results for June.
Barack Obama spent the day in Ohio as he launched the first bus tour of his campaign for re-election in November.
In May, the Romney campaign out-fundraised its rival, attracting $77 million against the Obama team’s $60 million.
Barack Obama has been warning supporters that he is in danger of becoming the first sitting president in history to be outspent by his opponent.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans raised a combined $100 million in June
According to Mitt Romney’s campaign aides, much of the money raised in June came from new donors, Politico reported.
Several states, including the key battlegrounds of Colorado, Michigan and Ohio, exceeded their fundraising goals, they added.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama pitched a positive message on Ohio’s economic recovery and the comeback of the state’s car industry.
Ohio’s unemployment rate of 7.3% compares with a national average of 8.2%.
Ohio is a key battleground in presidential elections – no Republican has ever won the White House without capturing it.
A Quinnipiac University poll of Ohio voters last week had Barack Obama leading his rival by 47% to 38% in the state. Earlier, the Obama campaign had run a barrage of attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record.
“I’m betting you’re not going to lose interest,” Barack Obama told voters in Maumee, Ohio.
“I’m betting you’re not going to lose heart. I still believe in you, I’m betting on you.”
The president also touched on his landmark healthcare reform act, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last week.
“It is going to make the vast majority of Americans more secure,” he told supporters. Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal the law if he wins office.
On Friday, Barack Obama will finish his bus tour with appearances in Poland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said the president had “no new answers” for the economy.
Despite its fundraising bonanza, correspondents say the Romney campaign has struggled recently to gain the initiative.
His team was seen as having been put on the back foot by the president’s order last month halting deportations for children of illegal immigrants.
The Romney camp also delivered conflicting responses to Supreme Court ruling last week on healthcare.
And there were negative headlines this week over a Vanity Fair investigation reporting that much of Mitt Romney’s personal fortune was hidden in a network of opaque offshore investment havens.
Conservative concerns over the former private equity chief’s campaign were vented in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
It accused Mitt Romney’s staff of “slowly squandering an historic opportunity”. The newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who called for a Romney campaign shake-up, in a tweet earlier this week.
Meanwhile, pictures of Mitt Romney on holiday with his family this week in New Hampshire prompted conservative radio talk host Laura Ingraham to tell listeners:
“There’s no week to spare, we have a country to save.”
With the economy such a major issue in the coming election, both campaigns will be eagerly awaiting figures due on Friday showing if there was any rise in hiring by US employers during June.
US media report that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his campaign next week.
Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday that he expected Mitt Romney, who won five primaries on Tuesday, to be the Republican nominee.
The former House Speaker’s campaign had said it would reassess its future if he did not win the contest in Delaware.
Newt Gingrich has won only two primaries – South Carolina and Georgia – since the election season began in January.
He will reportedly hold his last campaign event on 1 May in Washington DC.
During a campaign stop in North Carolina on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich all but conceded.
“You have to at some point be honest about what’s happening in the real world as opposed to what you would like to have happened,” Newt Gingrich told supporters.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his campaign next week
Newt Gingrich added that Mitt Romney “had a very good day yesterday. You have to give him some credit.”
He said he would continue to campaign for the next week as a “citizen”, adding he would discuss economic issues, such as high unemployment.
“We are going to stay very, very active and we are working out the details of our transition,” Newt Gingrich said.
“But I am committed to this party. I am committed to defeating Obama.”
Newt Gingrich was expected to go ahead with several scheduled campaign stops across North Carolina.
The former House Speaker had campaigned heavily in Delaware ahead of Tuesday’s primary, a state that Mitt Romney all but ignored.
But Newt Gingrich still lost the state’s vote by 30%.
Bob Walker, a Gingrich adviser and former US representative, said on Tuesday: “I don’t think we can lose by 30 points in Delaware and feel good about it.”
In December, Newt Gingrich confidently predicted he would become the Republican nominee, and for a time enjoyed high poll ratings.
Although he won his home state of Georgia and nearby South Carolina, Newt Gingrich racked up heavy losses as the primary season continued.
He had vowed to fight on, even as Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney’s main Republican challenger, suspended his own campaign earlier in April.
Following Tuesday’s wins, the Romney campaign will begin formally integrating with the Republican National Committee.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus said on Wednesday he had directed its staff to start communicating with Mitt Romney advisers.
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney’s delegate lead means it is impossible for any other candidate to capture the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination at the Republican convention in August.